Texas governor kicks off Pride Month by signing ban on gender-affirming care for trans kids

A person holds up a sign reading 'trans justice can't wait' as LGBTQ+ and trans rights advocates protest in the Texas Capitol Building against the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the state including a gender-affirming healthcare ban for trans youth

Texas governor Greg Abbott has signed a bill banning life-saving, gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth. 

The Republican governor signed SB 14 into law Friday (2 June), which bars trans people aged under 18-years-old from accessing gender-affirming medical care like puberty blockers and hormone therapies. It comes into effect on 1 September. 

The legislation also requires people already receiving gender-affirming care in Texas to “wean off” the treatments “over a period of time”, forcing trans youth to detransition.

This is set to become one of the largest gender-affirming healthcare bans in the US as Texas is the second-largest state in the nation and home to thousands of young trans people.

The ACLU of Texas denounced Abbott for banning “life-saving healthcare for trans youth” and promised to see the Republican governor in court. 

“Abbott can’t stop trans youth from thriving in Texas — and we’ll take him to court to make sure of it,” the group tweeted

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Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, told the Texas Tribune that “cruelty has always been the point” of hateful anti-trans bills like this gender-affirming healthcare ban.

“It’s not shocking that this governor would sign SB14 right at the beginning of Pride [Month]; however this will not stop trans people from continuing to exist with authenticity – as we always have,” Schelling said. 

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LGBTQ+ and trans rights advocates protest in the Texas Capitol Building against the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the state including a gender-affirming healthcare ban for trans youth
Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, said the gender-affirming healthcare ban won’t “stop trans people from continuing to exist with authenticity”. (Getty)

Trans people, parents of trans kids, healthcare professionals and major medical groups have said gender-affirming healthcare is medically necessary and appropriate care for trans youth. 

Studies overwhelmingly show that trans people who have access to gender-affirming treatment are significantly less likely to experience depression and anxiety and consider suicide than those who are barred from such treatments. 

Further research found trans youth who had access to hormone therapy reported an increase in positive emotions, life satisfaction and self-confidence

Additionally, guidelines by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health reported several studies show that there are “low rates of patient regret and high rates of patient satisfaction” with gender-affirming treatments and surgeries for trans people.

Yet, the right for trans youth to access gender-affirming healthcare has become a hot button issue in the US with 18 states, including Texas, restricting their access to such treatments. 

When marking International Transgender Day of Visibility on 31 March, president Joe Biden said the “wave of discriminatory state laws” attacking trans people, particularly trans youth, is “un-American and must end”. 

LGBTQ+ and trans rights advocates hold up signs in the Texas Capitol Building to protest against the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the state including a gender-affirming healthcare ban for trans youth
LGBTQ+ and trans rights advocates took to the Texas Capitol Building to protest against the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, including a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth. (Getty)

Texas has unfortunately led the charge in the rollback on trans rights after Abbott ordered state officials to investigate the parents of trans youth for “child abuse” in February 2022. 

After months of intrusive investigations, a Texas state court granted relief for the families named in a lawsuit against Abbott’s order, and that relief was expanded to cover any family that belongs to PFLAG, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group with more than 600 members in Texas. 

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Amid such attacks, suicide prevention resources for LGBTQ+ youth were removed from the Texas department of health and human services website. The state launched an investigation into a Texas hospital’s gender-affirming care for trans youth

In May, trans rights activists were “pinned down”, arrested and dragged out of the state Capitol for peacefully protesting against SB 14.

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